Just to keep everyone in the loop, Sunday was exhausting for me. My sister came up to visit, but I was such a terrible host, she left and I went back to bed. I was woken up by nurses throughout the night, but basically slept from 7pm to 7am.
I write this only because I do not know how much I have left in me later, so it means a lot to reach out when I can.
Ok, so woke up this morning with an after-birthday party celebration hangover, yet this one was a little bit different than what you may think. Yes, I was tired, but considering why I was tired had nothing to do with parties, gifts, cakes and all. I looked at the clock and it read 11:00 am and I was still feeling exhausted. My engraftment syndrome has become quite severe since I was given more stem cells than patients normally receive, so the body and bone aches are normal, yet my fever and chills still seen to linger too.
You might begin to know the daily routine here, goal #1? Take a shower. That wasn't too bad, so I was in and out of there, productively, yet swiftly, in about ten minutes. Then I napped or at least I tried to lay down for a bit. Fatigue has now become a challenge that I face everyday. Just another one of those things I fight with. I fight with myself to shower, to get dressed, to GET MOTIVATED, TARA!!!!
Today J came to visit and spend the night me. He got me walking and laughing and, what do you know? We got up to 22 laps total! Thank you, J, you have no idea how much I love walking with you because its like we're not walking for laps, but merely walking, talking and laughing.
So I will let you in on a little secret. I have been going though such a nightmare of stem cell engraftment pain in my back and legs. Sometimes it's helpful to get some good news! The chemo killed my entire immune system, as it should have and did, and my counts came down to 0.1 or less for days. My platelets were critically low too, but to me, they actually didn't seem that bad, just the bruising was the worst sign of the low counts. I've lived this life walking around with blood counts this low, so it seems almost normal to me.
Well friends, I am headed to higher counts, ALL BY MYSELF! Today my WBC were a whopping 4.3 and my platelets are 116!!!! I have NEVER seen any number remotely close to those so you can only imagine how ecstatic I am! It makes the bigger picture easier to focus on through the pain and fatigue!
I wasn't quite sure how I would celebrate my birthday in the hospital without a restaurant to go to family and friends. Ironically, I think I had one of the best birthday celebrations, to date, as I turned 34 yesterday in the hospital. My nurses and friends decorated my room with streamers, balloons and banners along with my iv pole, too. 12 mylar balloons, 5 banners and one handmade banner by Natalie, plus cute plush flowers that twist themselves around anything in the room, made for a very festive suite on the 10th floor.
This set the stage for a daylong birthday celebration. My mom, dad and son came up and, soon after, it seemed to be a steady stream of well wishes and familiar faces who all drove to downtown Detroit just to see me on my birthday. Mike and Emily, from Doner (the ad agency I used to work for), showed up with my all time favorite burger, the Redoat Tavern's Piedmontese burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and avocado. DELICIOUS! To boot, Dan and Ann Marie West and their daughter, Samantha, showed up with a box of Astoria pastries from the Astoria Pastry Shop on Main in Royal Oak. The box was packed with an assortment of gourmet cupcakes and chocolate cookies. Thanks to these yummies, my appetite came back for a minute and my stomach seemed to be happy for the first time in a while.
My nurses had to take out the fold out bed from my room and replaced it with more chairs to accommodate all of my visitors that day. One of the many people that stopped by was Mr. Nick Karmamos. My family, including myself, commended him on the wonderful staff that they have on hand. He was thrilled, as he should be, to have good people working for him. We took a picture, which I will post at the end of this post, and he was off and I was too, to visit with more friends who showed up to my room.
All of the staff nurses were even allowed to wear their Tigers shirts in honor of my birthday! I was excited to see everyone looking like we were all going to the game together; maybe someday! At least we all matched the décor of my room! More importantly, we all matched in spirit, and that is in love, hope, and faith. I believe in them and they have hope in me to push through this time. I have truly become close with the nurses here on the 10th floor love them so much.
In regards to gifts, I got a HUGE gift, one that I have been blowing out many candles for; a bone marrow match. Well this year my wish came true! I also received sentimental, heart felt gifts, fun gifts, a ton of Godiva Chocolates, cakes, cookies and an edible arrangement. I got clothes, books, and extra special hot chocolate straight from Paris, France! I CANNOT wait to have this treat and CHEERS with RJ King!
So many visitors all throughout the day and so many people I am thankful for, what a perfect birthday. It was just wonderful on so many levels, but most of all, it began waking up knowing that I will finally be given a second chance at life and THAT is a gift of a lifetime.